8 Easy Tips to Help You Grow and Maintain a Thriving Outdoor Garden
Establishing a thriving outdoor garden requires time and commitment, but the reward is worth the investment. While you probably won’t get everything right on the first attempt, practicing gardening gives you the experience of growing an amazing garden regardless of location.
Your location determines the best plants to grow in your garden since native species require minimum maintenance. The following tips can help you create a garden and ensure the optimum growth of your flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
1. Understand Your Location
While it sounds obvious, not every plant can grow everywhere. Your location determines the best plant species for your garden. Study your area’s sun exposure, weather, and climate conditions to understand the possibility of growing certain plants.
This step is critical since it helps you know your limits and expected outcomes. You can also consult a plant expert from the local garden center and look at suitable native plants. Natives are well adapted to the local climate and have the best chances of surviving extreme weather fluctuations.
2. Plant Disease Resistant Species
Most disease-resistant plants may still get affected by pathogens, but they have higher chances of surviving the infections. For example, some tomato varieties are resistant to fusarium and verticillium fungi strains.
However, it can be hard to identify flowers with resistance codes since the trait may not be described on the tag. However, this doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of disease-resistant flowers. In fact, most plant breeders have developed varieties that can withstand black spots and powdery mildew.
Gardeners and nursery attendants are conversant with plant varieties with the highest disease-resistance traits. Also, plant catalogs and reference books often list plant varieties with tolerance and resistance to local diseases.
3. Test Your Soil and Apply Organic Manure
Testing your soil helps you understand the nutrient and PH levels. You can send soil samples to a nearby nursery or buy a home testing kit. The report describes the soil’s alkalinity and acidity levels, which determine nutrient availability and how plants respond to that soil. Different plants perform well at different PH levels, so the test can help you decide the best varieties.
In addition, examine the soil texture. Healthy soils should be easy to dig up and disintegrate quickly. If the ground is too hard, root penetration for most plants will be an issue. Add compost, mulch, or fresh soil, and ensure the seed bed is aerated.
Some materials in compost decompose slower than others; hence some organic matter may be safe for your garden, but others require more time. The composting process generates heat for a long time, which kills pathogens in the organic matter. In fact, plant materials that haven’t fully decomposed can introduce pathogens and diseases into your garden. Unless you are sure the compost is safe, avoid yard waste on sensitive plants to avoid disease outbreaks.
4. Start With Easy-to-Grow Plants
Some plants are easy to grow, while others are hard to grow and maintain. If you are a novice gardener, choose vigorous plants that grow quickly with minimal maintenance needs. For instance, most vegetables are easy to grow, and you can have a fully-established garden in one season.
Alternatively, you can choose various species of shrubs and ferns since they are hardy and can withstand diverse weather conditions. Lavender, daylilies, snapdragons, and peonies can also add variety to your garden.
5. Adequate Watering
Watering the garden is essential, but most pathogens depend on moisture to thrive. Your watering method and timing intervals can make a huge difference. The ideal watering method should limit the moisture to the root area, keeping the foliage dry to prevent the growth and multiplication of pathogens. Drip irrigation systems and soaker hoses are perfect for any garden. However, if you are using manual watering methods, direct the water to the root section and avoid soaking the leaves with water.
Since most leaf problems are accelerated by excess moisture, overhead sprinklers may be unsuitable for your garden. However, you can still use overhead sprinklers if there’s enough sunlight to dry the water on the leaves. Most importantly, too much water is unhealthy for plants. Typically, waterlogged soils provide the perfect conditions for fungal growth responsible for root rot.
6. Maintain Proper Spacing
Spacing is important when transplanting seedlings and cuttings or maintaining an established garden. Overpopulated gardens often have high humidity, allowing the spread of downy mildew, rust, and powdery mildew. Proper spacing facilitates optimum air circulation and eliminates unhealthy humidity levels.
In addition, overcrowding leads to poor growth as plants compete for water, nutrients, and light. Weak plants are more prone to diseases, and pathogens can spread quickly from unhealthy plants to healthy ones. Trimming crowded, old, and damaged plants minimizes the risk of disease and bugs.
7. Inspect Seedlings and Watch Out For Bugs
Prevention is the easiest way to limit pathogens in your garden. Understanding how different plant diseases manifest is important to avoid infected plants. Get some books, catalogs, and magazines, study various diseases, and learn how to differentiate healthy plants from unhealthy ones.
Avoid plants with rotten stems, dead spots, or bugs. The problems can spread throughout the garden, and some pathogens are hard to eliminate once they spread. Also, inspect the roots to ensure they are developed and healthy. The roots should be robust, firm, and spaced throughout the lower section. Typically, mushy roots are a bad sign even when the foliage appears healthy.
Insect damage can pose serious plant problems. Most viruses invade a plant through openings made by bugs. However, some bugs are pathogen carriers and transmit diseases from unhealthy plants. Aphids are notorious carriers, while thrips are stubborn vectors of necrotic spot viruses that can destroy your garden in a short time. Most importantly, you should control insects and bugs with various hosts.
8. Prune and Clean Up the Garden at the Right Time
It is vital to clean the garden regularly regardless of prevailing weather conditions. General hygiene is an effective management mechanism that deters disease and eliminates established pathogens. For instance, dead or dry plants can promote the establishment of the different types of termites that can destroy your shrubs.
Typically, some diseases can survive on plant debris through winter and invade new plants in spring. For instance, you can reduce black spot infections by clearing dead leaves and stalks each fall. If you leave plant foliage in winter, remove unsuitable parts before new plants emerge.
You can also trim shrubs and trees in late winter instead of waiting until early spring. Most wounded parts often develop infections during the winter, facilitating disease establishment when plants hibernate. Pruning your garden in late winter prevents pathogens from spreading to new plants in the spring. While winter storms can cause repetitive plant damage, it’s essential to trim broken parts when they occur. Most importantly, ensure the tools are clean and sharp to avoid unnecessary stress on the plants.
Establishing a thriving outdoor garden can be fascinating, but the process doesn’t happen in a day. It takes time and patience. Close monitoring is necessary, but impatience can push you to overfeed or overwater the garden, which leads to more problems. Once you decide the plant species you want to establish, keep an eye on the watering schedule and any signs of pathogens to ensure the garden is healthy and thriving.